Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Monday, February 27, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust

Something told me to take this picture of Maddie before I tried to fix the glasses for the ten zillionth time. She looks hilarious with them bent so far out of shape but never complains or wants them fixed. Almost before I started reshaping them the metal fatigued. We are down to the backup purple pair with five weeks until her next checkup where I can get a new prescription.

Same story with Ben only his should have been a warranty repair. Mailed them back to the states with a ten day shipping postmarked Jan 6. Still haven't arrived...I don't hold out much hope since they are over a month late now. I paid $8 to ship uninsured. Other option was $54 with insurance. Double that to get it back and it was the same cost as a brand new pair so I chose to play the odd. Looks like I lose this round.

Jake. Now that's a good story I don't have the patience to blog from my phone. Maybe when I have a minute to sit at the computer. Let's just say it involved multiple trips to the store, tantrums, lots of tears, some full body wrestling, a pregnant lady chasing him down the street when he made a fast escape and he now has a neon orange pair of specs but he is willing to wear them to I conceded a loss on color.

Here's hoping the baby is the first with a good set of peepers. Someone ought to take after daddy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flat Stanley Troubles

The boys are ready to go!

Flat Stanley came to visit this week and wanted a tour around Singapore. I figured since it was for Ben’s friend Anthony then Ben ought to come along, plus I needed someone to hold him in the photos. The weekend would work out best.  I kept him right on the edge of the Command Central desk where I spend most my time at home so I wouldn’t forget.  Saturday came and went and I didn’t think once about it.

 Sunday morning I hopped in the shower thinking through my day and determined I had enough time to make homemade rolls. That would be the perfect treat for dinner tonight, plus Ben had been asking for a few weeks and I had been craving them.  Then it hit me. We hadn’t done Flat Stanley’s tour on Saturday. How could I have forgotten?  Oh well. It was only 8am and we had plenty of time because church didn’t start until 1pm.  I recruited Brian and hatched a plan. We got everyone breakfast and packed lunch to picnic at the sights before church. When everyone was ready to go I reached for Flat Stanley in his place of honor…he was gone.  No wonder I hadn’t remembered on Saturday. He wasn’t there to remind me!

Mom and Maddie at the Merlion enjoying the city skyline.
The hunt began. I rummaged through my perpetual stack of papers. Nothing. (Thanks to Gina that stack is nearing microscopic size when compared to the amount of “stuff” that’s been piled up for the last 15 years of my life. I love her!) Now that I have confirmed I don’t have Flat Stanley, the accusation game may begin. “Who took Flat Stanley?” I holler out at all three kids. Nobody is willing to confess. I press a little harder. Finally Maddie Mae volunteers that she DID take him but of course she didn’t lose him. Chances of that? One in a million. She wanted to make lots of Flat Stanleys and was tracing him. After a bit of unhappy noise rattling through the house from the parental units and the 5 year old artist Flat Stanley was retrieved and we were able to get on our way in the car.

Ben got thirsty and needed a drink in the hot weather.
The Merlion was happy to help out.
The first stop we made downtown was to get pictures of the famous Merlion and the super cool looking Marina Bay Sands. It was H.O.T. and sticky and there was sweat literally dropping off my chin and rolling down my scalp and back. I had dressed for church and had a long skirt. Never again. The kids enjoyed the walk and exploring together since we’d seen it all from far off but never yet taken the time to stop and go to the sites.

Next stop – Sentosa. Boy did we all wish we were in swim suits! The beach looked so incredibly inviting to our overheated bodies and tired feet. We parked and started walking to the spot we had in mind.  There is a sign marking “The Southern Most Point of Continental Asia” which is sort of cool so Flat Stanley needed a picture of that for sure! From the car park it’s about a ten minute walk. As we passed the toilets I asked who needed to use the bathroom, knowing there was nothing out on the little island with the sign. I triple confirmed with EVERYONE. No one needed to pee so off we went.

Flat Stanley enjoys a picnic in the jungle hut on the beach of Sentosa Island.
No sooner had we crossed the suspension bridge than Jacob started dancing. He’s only been accident free for about two weeks and the potty training is still fresh. Knowing urinating in public is a MAJOR no-no I was unsure what to do. He wasn’t going to make it all the way back to the public toilets. I found an abandoned pathway and helped him pee in the bushes watching closely that we were alone. Then we got out our picnic to eat.

Flat Stanley climbing in the jungle near the equator.
Maddie being her regular self was antsy and wiggly. Soon I noticed her walk over to the bushes area where Jacob had been and I saw a full moon. She didn’t! But she did. My five year old had just peed on the path too. Bad news though. She was wearing her Sunday dress, leggings, underwear, socks and her “high heel” Sunday shoes. She pulled her underwear and leggings down and stood straight up and peed.  Her legs were all wet plus her underwear, leggings and socks were soaked.

Maddie and Flat Stanley watching the ocean freighters off the coast of Singapore.
Brian and I ingest and process the current situation, but aren’t exactly sure what to do. We are 45 minutes from home. Home to church is 25 minutes. and church starts in 50 minutes. No possible way to go home and change if we want to be on time. Ugh. We make her strip off everything except the dress and high heel shoes. About this time Jacob is wiggly again. “I feel the poops!” Seriously?!?!?! We can’t do that in the bushes!

Ben and Stanley at the baby Merlion statue.
I’m too fat to grab and run with Jacob to the toilets. Brian gets the job and off they go with Ben tagging along. I bag everything nasty from Maddie up and clean our picnic. We nab the picture of the sign and she carries Flat Stanley to meet the boys at the bathroom. Knowing we don’t have a lot of options, Brian rinses her underwear out and attempts to dry them in the bathroom with an air dryer. Slow, slow process, but she can’t go with a bear bum. She doesn’t sit modestly enough to pull that off yet.

Ready to walk back to the car park. Of course now without socks, Maddie’s shoes are rubbing and hurting her feet. So we wait for the tram ride to spare her some misery. We climb off the tram at the car park and I see an awesome sign. Something about a special deal if you buy an ice cream and a hot dog deep fried in a waffle on a stick. Perfect photo opportunity for our last shot of the day. “Maddie, stand by that sign and hold Flat Stanley for a picture with it.” “Huh? I don’t have him.” “WHAT?!!? Where is he?” “I don’t know.”

Zufelts across from the Merlion.
Look how tiny the people are that are standing next to it!
 At this point I’m ready to blow a gasket. Poor Brian, drenched in sweat like the rest of us ends up running back the tram route to search the toilets and the trash cans in the toilet area while I get the kids buckled and the boys changed into church clothes in the car. He comes back fifteen minutes later empty handed. No Flat Stanley.  Neither one of us has a single nice word to say to that child and when you don’t have anything nice to say we just choose not to say anything at all.

Maddie and Flat Stanley at the Southern Most Point of Continental Asia!

Maddie and Flat Stanley at the Southern Most Point of Continental Asia!
We end up at church 20-25 minutes late. Parking lot is full. Sacrament over. Five stinky, sweaty people. Jake and Maddie both asleep in the car and I’m about as ready for a nap as I’ve ever been! Luckily someone pulls out of a parking spot just as I’m about to leave. I reverse, grab their spot and we unload everyone to catch the last half of the service.

Ben and Flat Stanley at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino in Singapore.
The three towers hold a boat like structure and have a swimming pool on top!
I got some advice from a few friends after church – learn to use photoshop! We’re prime candidates for all Flat Stanley projects for the next two years. If you know photoshop you don’t have to do that again!
Zufelt kids show Flat Stanley the central business district skyline of Singapore.

Guess what I’m doing tomorrow. Yep. Making a replacement Flat Stanley with the “pattern” Maddie had to hand over that she made from the original. I think I’ll change his shirt though to a Singapore tourist t-shirt. Then it’s in the mail for our dear remade friend to make his March 9 deadline.

Maddie on the suspension bridge at Palawan Beach, Sentosa Island, Singapore.
Heading back from the Southern Most Point of Continental Asia.
This is the last picture we have of our friend before he was lost forever.
**Lucinda – I post this not to make you feel bad, but because I know you will fall off your chair laughing at our Flat Stanley adventure. I’m sure you can picture every piece of it knowing Maddie like you do! Don’t worry, in about two months I’m going to laugh too. Just not until then. And surely her future fiancé will tease her endlessly when he gets the chance to read this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Learning to Play

Having Gina here is great. She is happy and kind and so helpful. The weird thing is I’m not so pulled in a million directions, especially at dinner and homework time. I’m having to learn to play again. It’s nice to be able to tell Jacob I can play bingo now instead of putting on a movie for him. Or read a book to Maddie rather than have her empty the dishwasher while I stir something on the stove. To focus on homework with Ben is a real treat so he’s turning in good quality work and really hitting the spelling words he needs so desperately to work on instead of yelling from the kitchen over the TV to the office how to spell things and then checking the paper when he finished only to make him go back and correct a million things. Sitting together for homework is one of my favorite bonuses. We are both much happier.  Gina is a real blessing right now.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Modesty at Five

Maddie was bringing me Polly pocket dolls today to dress. Those suckers are tight and hard to manage. At one point she brought me this pink shirt.

Thinking it was a pretty skanky shirt for anyone to wear I decided to put it on backward so it would be modest and she wouldn't notice or care. Wrong. She brought it straight back to me telling me it was backwards. Bummer. So I fixed it but not until I asked her if she would ever wear something like that. She confirmed that no she wouldn't but not without adding,"but I wish there was no such thing as the word modesty." Living a virtuous life isn't easy. Even when you are five years old.

Mama! Help Me!!

Jacob’s friend is chasing him around in circles trying to pinch his shoulder (with a balloon animal dog). The circle has gone round and round and round until Jacob has basically lapped his buddy and only inches behind him now instead of the other way around. That’s when he starts yelling, “Mama! Mama! Help me!!” I’m not really sure what to say.  Possibly, “Stop running.”  You’re actually catching HIM instead of him catching you now.

Baby Names

We have between 11 and 18 days until the baby is here with a yet to be scheduled c-section and no names we can agree on. I did see one at Jake’s preschool that we may consider if it’s a boy. Mokshit. What do you think? I can’t come up with anyway to pronounce it that isn’t just plain terrible to an English speaker.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Just arrived at Maddie's school. It's a half mile walk one way and I realized when I got here that I hadn't looked up the entire time. I know the school hallways and where to turn left or right to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I write email and texted the entire time. Yikes. That may just qualify me as an official addict.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Zufelt Valentine Tradition

I may not be blogging much, but I’m still alive. Today is Valentines Day. When we were dating Brian and I rarely actually dated, as in went out somewhere public and spent money on a date. For the most part we hung out with friends at my apartment or his and did stuff at home. Our first Valentines Day together we made sugar cookies together. Despite the severe amount of mocking he does about people and their traditions, he does seem to enjoy this particular one and has kept it going for a long, long time.


This year I made the cookies while he was at work and had the frosting and everything we needed ready to go when he got home. My master plan was that we could do homework, dinner and decorating and still make our regular bedtime. Jake wasn’t on board. He cried most the afternoon. Then the second we sat to dinner he started crying. It was so bad and so loud that Brian ended up taking him into another room.  Twice. He never did recover and ended up going to bed without eating a single bite of food. But, to stay on schedule for bedtime Brian took him upstairs and Ben and Maddie and I decorated all the cookies alone. It worked, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. We delivered a bunch of plates of sweets to the neighbors on our street because it was too late to go far. Then we had a few cookies to snack on and brushed teeth and sent them off to bed.  I had fun, but hope next year will be a full family event.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Helpers - Our Latest News

Now that I have my historical feelings out I will make the big announcement. We hired a helper. Hee hee. Who'd a thunk it? Not me. Not Brian. I'm blaming Baby #4 and divine intervention.

In August I was invited on a girls trip to Malacca, Malaysia for one night (Fri/Sat) with five other ladies from church. I really, really wanted to go, but with no helper and not a single neighbor in the neighborhood since the great summer exodus of the Americans what was I to do? I couldn't go. Who would watch the kids? I "replied all" to the email invite my regrets despite wanting to go.  To my surprise, Kristi, who I had barely known before hatched a plan. Her kids and mine are all the same age and sex and had become friends at church on Sunday because they were all three in the same age group classes (they are Australian and in local schools so still in school in June/July/Aug). She suggested that maybe I could drop them in the morning as we left for the bus, the kids could have a bit of a play date and Brian could pick them up in the early afternoon on his way home from work and Saturday Brian would be home anyway. I was game so we had a intro play date where all went well and sweet Gina watched my kids so I could have a quick getaway. That's how it all started I suppose.

Then our kids and theirs became fantstic friends and we soon had Friday afternoon swim dates at their condo and Gina would offer to watch the kids on occasion so Brian and I could do a quick dinner date. I know kids mostly play and entertain themselves and sometimes having a play date makes the work end up easier in a way but still, it's a bunch of kids she was watching! She was so good to us and we soaked up every second of our three or four date nights since August.

Starting January all of Kristi's kiddos were now in school so they don't need quite the same amount of help anymore. And I was freaking out about what to do when the baby comes. I'd spend an entire year looking for a support system here to help with kid swaps and the like only to be disappointed. (That's an understatement - I actually got emails from people telling me in no uncertain terms "we don't help each other here, you have to hire help", no joke, I really got an email that said that).

I know that physically my recovery from the c-section can be really hard and I know I have to walk 1 1/2 miles everyday pushing a stroller with Jake (and new baby) to drop off and pick up Maddie from school. the walk isn't negotiable.  Timing was good and Gina is perfect. She accepted our offer to come work for us and she started last Wednesday. It seems to me that in the last year I've prayed on five different occasions, usually in a mode of desperation and frusteration, about hiring help. Each time the answer has been very clear that it wasn't the right thing for our family. This time was different. I felt nothing but calm about inviting Gina into our home. I knew it would be an adjustment but so far so good.

One week in and everything looks great so far. The kids adored Gina before she arrived and love to show her off to anyone and everyone that comes over. I have gotten so much dejunking, clutter control, finance updates in Quicken and random jobs taken care of I can hardly believe it! Ben's homework quality has gotten much better because I can help him with focused attention instead of multi-tasking making dinner/homework/toy clean up/fight settler/door answering/everything else. Brian's comment the second day in was, "Looks like we are going to have more well rounded meals now." Can't argue that. I committed to a healthy main dish - veggies, fruit, etc were a bonus dish when I got to them. Often I threw a bag of baby carrots on the table and called it good but even that much wasn't happening lately.

Certainly there are things I will have to be better at communicating. Brian and I went to the Thaipusim Festival in Little India Tuesday morning at 3:30am because Gina was here with the kids and Brian had to work all day so it was our only chance to see it together. We planned to be back by 6am to wake the kids so nothing to do but be physically present in the house.  She said to knock on her door when we left so I did, thinking that was a little strange. Talk about going above and beyond. She is so fantstic, she got up at 3:30 and stayed awake so the kids were cared for until we got home at 5:30am.  I felt SOOOO bad when I got home. I never stated it, but figured she'd crack open her door and sleep. If someone woke up crying or some random thing like that - which they never do - she'd help them out.  So I'm a work in progress and she's fantastic. No surprise there! We love having Gina around and all the help she is providing our family. Right now it's the honeymoon phase. In four weeks, baby comes and my real work begins and I will appreciate her even more then than I do already.

My Historical View on Helpers and Why

When we first arrived here I had a little cultural trouble because I've always used the term "helper" for my kids.
"Please pick up those Lego's and put them in the bucket." "No." "I need you to be my helper today."
"It's time to set the table for dinner." "Why do I have to do it?" "Because you're my helper in this family and we all have jobs we have to do."
You know, that sort of thing. Trouble is, here in Singapore the title "helper" is used to mean something totally different. That is what people call their live in maids, using the term helper and maid interchangeably. You wouldn't believe the looks of horror I once got at the park when Ben and Maddie were throwing fits over leaving and picking up the picnic or whatever was spread all over the ground before we left. The park was packed with Singaporean folks and when I said something like, "You have to pick it up because you're my helpers." I knew instantly I had messed up again from the looks on their faces.

Time ticked on and I've been able to edit my vocabulary about half the time, the other half I just quit caring what they think. My kids are my helpers. Deal with it.

We settled into our house when our household goods shipment arrived and the kids began to make friends. One thing they became aware of incredibly quickly was that everyone in our neighborhood had a helper living with them. Then play dates begun and the helpers, well, they helped. They often got the kids snacks or changed a TV station and other random simple things like that. Trouble was my kids started noticing that they also cooked dinner and did laundry.

Soon came summer and all the friends disappeared for their 8-10 week holidays back with grandparents in the US and we were left alone. Without school to keep the kids busy, at least in my view, the kids had time to help around the house more. I will never forget one hot and humid June morning hearing a four year old Maddie throwing a tantrum in our backyard. She was in no mood to help with any chores whatsoever but especially not folding laundry. She screamed at the top of her lungs for the entire world to hear, "I should NOT have to do laundry! THIS IS MAIDS WORK!!!!"

Well nothing could strengthen my resolve more than a moment like that from my most strong willed and defiant child because frankly it would be really nice for momma to have that kind of help at home. The decision was made. No way, no how were we ever getting a helper. It sounded like a guaranteed way to cement in my children an attitude of entitlement and privileged. Months later though, we found out that Maddie and Ben had, without our permission, hired a maid. They named her Sarah. She was their imaginary helper and they loved her to death. She was nice and did all their chores. Brian and I were totally amused that they had schemed this up on their own and talked to each other about things Sarah was doing or was going to do.

Carpe Diem Parenting?

When people tell me my blog is "funny" and they love reading it because it's so honest, I tell them I don't believe in sugar coating my day. I live a life of reality parenting and am not ashamed to let that dirty secret out of the closet. I love my kids. I love my life. That doesn't mean it's all flowers and roses. Sometimes it poop in the carpet, tantrums on the bus to the market or vomit in the car and it's okay to be annoyed about it once in a while.

Check out this article Lucinda sent me today. Totally made my day because I laughed as I saw myself writing the exact same darn thing knowing people think I'm so negative sometimes. This article is mentally written by me, I just lack the great english literary skills this gal has to put it out in print. My favorite line is this: "I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question."


All I can say is they hit the nail right on the head.
Surviving and Sometimes Even Thriving in Singapore (aka Angie Sue)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No Time for a Baby

I keep trying to figure out when to deliver this baby. It seems to me that the world is crowding in around me. We keep getting notices from school and scouts and church and birthday party invites and everything else that such and such is the week of the delivery date. It's making me nuts knowing I'm going to miss stuff with my kids that they really care about and want to do. Seems like there is simply no time for this baby to come. Or for me to sit out life and recover from a big surgery. I hadn't realized how much simpler life was delivering Maddie when Ben didn't have a single thing on his calendar for the next year.

Jacob came just before Christmas so I missed two Christmas parties I really wanted to go to but then the world slowed down and people left town to visit family for the holidays and school was out and we had a snow storm. Life was a good kid of dead.

Here we are facing our fourth delivery. Do I miss the school performances? Ben being awarded his cub scout wolf badge? Swim lessons we paid for and are finally seeing progress with? Ballet lessons? Pinewood derby? Ugh.

I think if I can't manage to sweet talk the doctor into going 3 days earlier than his prescribed window (March 6 +/- 4 days) to get my leap day baby then I'm going with 3/3/12. Cute in the USA. Great for an international baby from the USA. Every medical/school/government form I complete I have to double check i have the month and day correct since they are written opposite here from what I have done my whole life. 3/3. So easy. I'll have to check with Brian who has been working on picking "the most auspicious day on the Chinese calendar." He even knows the hour of day that is best according to the moon and the experts in numerology.

Skateboarding Jake

Jake was so patient to wait for me today while I cleaned up all the projects i had going on the kitchen table so I could go outside and go around the block with him and skateboard. This kid can be loads of fun when he's happy and we had lots of happy faces this evening.